View Full Version : Very Interesting Story

09-09-2003, 18:11
Have you ever read a book that you just couldn't get out of your mind? "Follow the River" by James Alexander Thom is such a book for me.

This book is the true story of a woman named Mary Ingles who was kidnapped by Indians from a small settlement near what is now Blacksburg, on the Virginia frontier, in the summer of 1755. She was taken by foot, horse, and canoe to what is now Big Bone, Kentucky. I don't want to tell all, in case you read the story (which I highly recommend), but I'll let you know that she escaped from captivity in the late fall of that year and set off for home, by following the river. Actually, several rivers, including what we now call the Ohio, the Kanawha, and the New. When she made her break, she had exactly a thin homespun dress she was wearing and one tomahawk she stole from her captors. With that and nothing else, she started hiking home, a distance estimated at probably 700- 800 miles, through the winter of 1755-56. Talk about light weight hiking!

Part of this story's appeal for me is that so much of the country through which she travelled is special to me. I grew up near it, live in it, and have spent years exploring its trails, rivers, and caves. I always liked to imagine what this beautiful country was like before the virgin forest was cut off and the rivers ran clear. This woman traversed some of my favorite places on earth, before any other white person even saw it.

I also loved this story because it puts so much of our modern fussing about equipment, etc, into perspective. Try hiking 800 miles through the winter with essentially no food, shelter, or even shoes! Good grief, she was tough!

I hope this inspires some of you to read this book. I'd also love to hear about the stories that have inspired you.

09-09-2003, 20:39
Yes, it is a very good book to read. I read it several years ago and still have it around here somewhere. I may look it up and read it again. I grew up in West Virginia and know many of the places the book refers to. It is a great story and if I am not mistaken it was a true event at least the book was based on history. Louis Lamour also had an excellent book besides the many westerns by the name of "Last of the Breed". It is also a very good story even though it is fiction it is very good reading if you like this type of adventure. I also liked the book 'Saqujawee" (spelling) about the Indian girl with Lewis & Clark on the voyage across the USA.

Just my 2 cents.....


09-09-2003, 22:07
Thanks, Walkerat99. I'll check out those books. Thom also has another true story called The Read Heart about a girl kidnapped by Indians, who chose to stay with them. Both those books are closely based on historical fact (I actually chased down a copy of the original manuscript for the story in Follow the River, which was written by Mary Ingles's son in the late 1700's about what happened to his mother, stories he heard on her knee, and Thom's book follows the original story very closely).

BTW, I grew up in Morgantown and lived for years in Charleston. The Mountain State is always near and dear!

09-10-2003, 19:07
I will check that book out, sounds awesome!! I am originally from the DC area(Kensington, Maryland)but have basically lived in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia since my early 20's(not including the college years spent there). My brother lives near Weston, where it truly is more "West Virginia"(wild, wonderful, and beautiful!)